Servers are the heart of the food industry. 

 

For this week’s segment of Server Says, AY sits down with Jason Appleby, a server at Kemuri. Appleby has been in the food industry for 20 years, with the last year at Kemuri. 

 

Appleby’s day-to-day duties consist of keeping the restaurant tidy, making sure that the tea is brewed and that everything is prepared at a moment’s notice. Appleby shared some of his personal favorite dishes for when he’s wrapping up a long shift.

 

“I really like the curry a lot, to be honest. It’s just spicy enough. If I’m getting the sushi roll, it’s the poison roll,” Appleby shared. “It comes in waves though. It just depends.”

 

If a table isn’t too sure what to get, the first thing Appleby recommends is the ceviche. 

 

“We have an excellent cooked ceviche. It comes with crispy wonton chips, and the contrast is so tasty. It’s flavorful and just spicy enough,” Appleby said. “I always encourage people to look at the sushi menu. We have things that no one else has and we have something for everyone. There’s a combination of casual and fancy. I’m so grateful to work at a place where we serve really good food and I can feel proud of what I’m recommending.”

 

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The food industry takes a toll on every worker’s feet, legs and back. Appleby shared his own remedy. 

 

“A lot of times, I’ll just get a generic shoe, but make sure I have a good, high-quality memory foam insert. That really makes the difference. Otherwise, it can feel like you’re walking on glass after a while,” Appleby said.

 

Appleby shared some of the skills needed to be a good server.

 

“I can teach anybody to sit down and memorize orders. But what makes a good server is having a good personality and caring,” Appleby said. “I can’t teach people to care, whether it’s because you’re ego-based or pure-hearted. I’m not going to lie, mine is mostly ego. I want people to think that I’m the best server ever; that’s my goal. But you need to care, and that means having patience, tolerance and compassion. My job is not to judge people where they’re at. You have to be socially in tune with people and stay calm under pressure.”

 

Appleby shared how he handles dealing with not-so-friendly customers. 

 

“When I get a rough table, I think, ‘man, am I blessed,’ because it’s an opportunity. I think I got that mentality from my mother,” Appleby said. “I don’t have a problem when my tables are rude to me, it’s when other tables are rude to me that I’m confused. I was just trying to be helpful.”

 

Sometimes for Appleby, silence speaks louder than words. 

 

“A lot of times when people are rude or reactive, they either don’t realize they’re doing it, or they’re just in a rough emotional spot. When they start hearing themselves is usually when realization sinks in,” Appleby said. “I had one guy say something really rough to me while I was cleaning plates. I don’t even remember what it was, but I said nothing because I wanted to say something. After several seconds of uncomfortable silence while I’m still cleaning the table, he apologized. He apologized, and that stuck out to me because it wouldn’t have happened had I said what I wanted to say.”

 

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Fortunately, Appleby has had plenty of positive experiences with customers. 

 

“I love being able to connect with people, especially when there’s a person at the table who just gets it, and they’re most likely the one who has worked in the food industry or customer service. They’re the person who gets everyone else’s attention and helps direct the flow of order taking. They give me the time of day,” Appleby said.

 

Some people think that the food industry isn’t a real job. Appleby shared his thoughts. 

 

“I love waiting tables. I’ve tried to stop and do different things. I get to take people and give them some kind of relief. My job isn’t the food part – that’s another person’s job. My job is the experience part. I don’t know a lot of jobs that provide that opportunity,” Appleby said. “Compared to most jobs, I think if anything it’s better in a lot of ways. Yeah, it’s tough and it’s weird hours and inconsistencies, but on the flip side, it’s magical. All the people you meet and you’re taking care of them all. It’s absolutely not only a real job, but to be honest, it’s more real than most people’s jobs. What’s more real than working with humans?”

 

Appleby offered some advice to individuals considering a career in the food industry.

 

“I think everybody should either work in some form of customer service or hospitality for a little while. It would really benefit people to work one-on-one with customers in a fast-paced environment for at least a year. But, there are some people who can’t do that. Some people will thrive much better in an office, and thank God for those people. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to be an accountant. Some people have the skills and personality and intelligence. Some people have intelligence but not the skills and personality. I think it’s worth giving it a shot, because whether or not you’re good at it, it can give you a better idea of the things that you are good at,” Appleby said. 

 

Lastly, Appleby shared some of the life lessons that he has learned from working in the food industry.

 

“Human beings crave a connection, and there’s a way to provide good service to pretty much every table. The range is completely different. Some tables want me to be invisible, and some want me to bring them a new fork every time I clean their plates. Some tables want to tell me everything that’s happened to them since 1985,” Appleby said with a laugh. “Humanity is beautiful. We create connections with each other in so many different ways.”

 

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